Urgent Help for Starting College Applications

OP- get an application in TODAY to Stonybrook and Binghamton. Then you can breathe.

Have you thought about taking a Gap year to work? That will give you time to save a little money (but be realistic about how much- certainly not enough to pay for college all by itself) and do a proper job on your applications?

As others have pointed out, there seems to be some wishful thinking on the part of your parents. I totally understand the prestige factor- we all do. But getting into Berkeley when it is completely out of reach financially is a waste of time on an application which you could be spending focused on a realistic option. And racing through the MIT essays is a bad idea as well. Folks think the essays are an after-thought and it’s all about high scores- WRONG. They need to be thoughtful, reveal something interesting about you that isn’t already in the application. That takes time.

Agree you need to get a handle on how much money your parents CAN contribute, not how much they WANT to contribute. And you need to take time to research colleges where everything you bring to the table will be an asset- your ethnicity, Stuy, your abilities, etc., not where they are working against you because the college sees applications from half your class!


This is exactly what is more likely to happen. For some immigrant families, college prestige is the hill to die on. For them this is the key to climb out of poverty. They may be borrowing from relatives or pool from their community as well, all outside of the standard lending sources.


Horribly sad that prestige would cause huge debt when the child could be equally successful at a T100 school with no debt.


And a T50 with no debt and a T20 with no debt…
Need blind/100% need colleges are what this student should be aiming for.
Lucky for him he’s got the SUNY system+ CUNY if need be so that he’s got affordable safeties and lots of choices that dontinvokve debt.
Even without the financial part of the equation, stony brook> some universities such as Syracuse for CS.


This student needs to cast a broad net. It sure looks like admission to a tippy top school is….possible. But there are no guarantees. Every kid, regardless of how strong they look on paper, needs sure things that are affordable.

I’m a big fan of building from the bottom up. Find those sure things for admission that will be affordable…then add matches and reaches.

If all this student does is apply to reaches…he might get accepted but he might not. Just about everyone applying to these elite schools is a tippy top student. 90% or so don’t get accepted at many.



Please read this thread. This extremely well qualified student applied to some very top schools…but no real sure thing the first time. He wasn’t accepted anywhere…took a great gap year and was subsequently accepted to MIT as well as all the other new applications he submitted (was denied admission to two repeat applications). He matriculated and graduated from MIT.

But that happy ending came only after enduring all rejections his senior year in high school.

But please read his story…it’s a must read for anyone applying to top schools only.


Where are you with the SUNY SB, Bing, and Buff apps?


Please exercise caution with NYU. While it is admirable that NYU is now claiming that it will meet full need from this point forward, that is simply a headline without any concrete action to back it up until this year’s admissions cycle is complete. NYU has historically been one of the top ranking schools in another metric, the amount of debt per student, and has been known for gapping. It is not clear how they will actually implement their promise to meet full need, and their NPC is still not very transparent. Nothing wrong with applying regular decision, but it would not be wise for a student needing substantial aid to make a high-stakes bet on early decision there.


Also from the article cited above on NYU’s new practice:

"The university has not yet made a formal announcement of the change in its financial aid policy. NYU webpages mentioning financial aid continue to refer to the university’s previous policy. "


“According to Beckman, the university has not decided whether it will expand the new policy to cover current students not in the class of 2025. If it does, financial aid packages for these students would likely increase.”

They are tweeting about doing this now, but a low-income student needs a steady four-year commitment and an official policy.


When you start thinking of ED, don’t think NYU.
In addition, if rankings matter, there are higher ranked universities that would meet your full need. :slight_smile:


Just remember that “meet full need” can include schools that are need aware, and schools that include loans in the aid package, or both.


I second this ABSOLUTELY. You sound a little unready for the entire experience from the maturity standpoint. If you were, you would have been on it last year. That’s okay! If Covid taught us anything, it is to be adaptable. As an Asian mom myself with immigrant parents, I was in your shoes 40 years ago. Some things never change. I can only imagine the pressure you are under. With your aspirations, taking a gap year may get you closer to what you aspire to. There are several solid colleges that have rolling admissions, that may be an option as well.

The gap year: my DD21 is doing this. Best decision ever. She is working, traveling, pursuing personal passions and saving a ton of money. She will be ready to go to a school that she loves next fall.

The most important takeaway for us as a family: there is no rule that you have to go as soon as you graduate. In fact, it might serve you well to take some time and do it the way that will get you what you want. If you are committed to going to college, you will go. No test score, AP exam or GPA will make up for maturity and drive.

Do NOT take on debt for yourself or your parents. At your income level you will have options that my full pay kid does not. Research them. My nieces found $50K in scholarships that with that plus financial aid as a first gen student enabled them to graduate from Santa Clara debt free.

Good luck.


Sometimes you have to be willing to go off of the grid and not look at the usual suspects.

Have you considered Colgate? I know that many people don’t look at LACs when it comes to STEM. It is a small but growing department were you will get a lot of individualized attention and a lot of opportunities.

It may also be a financially feasible opportunity for your family. You may stand a great chance of be admitted because every one is not running there for CS.

Colgate University - Computer Science

have you considered Brandeis?
Brandeis Computer Science


You don’t have to take a gap year because your applications aren’t done yet. You still have time and you have a school break coming up. You can do it.


SUNY schools are may not offer him coverage for room and board, even if he were to get full tuition. This is why a CUNY school that he can commute to is his financial safety. Certainly, he should also apply to a SUNY school or two, since it may be his next best option, financially. But he is likely to get a full ride from T20 schools, if he gets in. So his best bet is to apply to his best CUNY option, his best SUNY option, and then a bunch or well-endowed reaches, since he has the stats to have a chance, and because they are likely to give him a full ride, unless his parents FAFSA and CSS reveal something that make the schools question his eligibility for financial aid.

A gap year won’t change any of this. It’s a really bad idea for this student.

OP, sometimes all you need is the help of someone else who has great executive functioning skills to get you started on the task. Do you have any friends who are organized and have the time to help you get started? Once you get going, it may all flow easily.


Not necessarily a bad idea, depends on what OP can accomplish in the next 3 weeks wrt his applications. A gap year would allow OP to apply thru QB, which could be pivotal, even if he doesn’t match to a school (but he would be a competitive candidate).


My anecdotal observations in recent years are that the OP, as an ORM, may not match well via QB.

He doesn’t have to match to reap the benefits of QB. I know plenty of ORMs who have been finalists and/or matched over the last several years. One well known poster, hkimpossible, became an unmatched finalist as an ORM.

ETA: ORMs tend to do better with the QB LACs.


Based on everyone’s input, I think I have a clear idea of what to do. I am almost done with my FAFSA (finishing it tonight) and will be completing the CSS profile shortly.

I am not a National Merit Scholar or anything like that. I think it is given to high scoring PSAT/SAT people, but I never applied for it.

Most of the comments recommended me to apply to the SUNY/CUNY schools. With so many schools, which one should I apply for?

I think the 3 best schools in their system is Stonybrook, Bing, and Buffalo. I read somewhere that Buffalo offers stem scholarship.


I completed 2/3 of my 3 AP exams this week. I have a social studies project due around 15th, but I am completing it early today so I can use the rest of my time working on college apps.

Also, I was wondering if there are any users here who can help me in the actually writing process of these essays (both personal & supplemental).

Another user posted this link which contains all colleges that offer 100% financial aid. My plan is 2-3 SUNY/CUNY schools & 2-3 additional safety schools before working on the schools like UChicago and MIT that is also on the list.

I’ve wrote down a list of all the recommended schools other users have mentioned. Which schools should be prioritized (besides SUNY/CUNY)? Also, which schools in that linked website URL do you guys recommend?

As some of the other users have pointed out, I’m hoping my various academic olympiads can make me somewhat competitive in the more single-digit selective school. However, I would like some help on writing the personal and supplemental essay. Please let me know if you can help or know anyone else that can.

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